Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook 2022 Vol. 15

Correspondent Mike Valiante shares his weekly Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook, featuring horses to watch, bet-backs, and more.

Each week he’ll give you the skinny on how the races are unfolding, which horses overcame the bias (or profited from it), and who had troubled trips. Plus, he’ll provide trainer and jockey of the week picks, and much more.

Notable races and trips

August 31 – September 3

The dirt track played slightly fairer last week. Fifteen of the twenty-two winners were first, second or third at the first call, but given the preponderance of small fields, this is not necessarily a sign of a strong bias. Although there were no wire to wire turf winners, ninety percent of the winners on the grass were closely stalking the leader in the 10 turf contests. There was one notable exception (see below).

September 1

  • Race 5: As noted above it was very hard to close on the turf course last week. In fact it has been largely that way since the meet began. For that reason the winner of this race J Beresford Tipton gets extra points for coming from dead last in a ten-horse field to win this claiming event. Kudos to his jockey Angel Suarez, who in my mind is the best turf rider in the Delaware jockey colony.

September 2

  • Race 2: Louise Brooks – In her 3rd MSW start this 2 year-old ran respectably and almost garnered the place spot. In speaking to trainer Lynn Ashby, she feels this horse will benefit from stretching out and trying the turf next time out.

Jockey and Trainer of the Week

Seven wins and 17 in-the-money finishes from 25 races. Just the type of week that one comes to expect from jockey Jaime Rodriguez. Four of those wins came on Friday’s card.

No individual trainer stood out this week. Six trainers had two wins each during the week. No trainer had three or more wins. This balance has been present among the trainers at Delaware all year. After Jamie Ness and Cal Lynch, who hold the top two training spots, there continues to be a cluster of trainers (20 to be exact) with anywhere from six to eleven wins for the meet.

Handicappers’ Toolbox

Two things that make handicapping challenging are high takeout and the fact that the collective opinion of the crowd is often correct. That is why you should always review the favorite in each race and bet heavier when you find what in your mind is a “false” favorite. In the 7th race last Friday, Tiger Blood was made the favorite in the race despite the fact that the nine-year-old had not run in a year. That race was a bad effort. In addition he has shown to be a very fragile horse over the course of his career. Lastly he was running with a bar shoe, Because of some glowing back class — multiple stakes wins, over $500,000 in earnings, high Beyers against much tougher competition — the betting public made him the favorite at odds of 2.40-1. Given his age, the layoff, and the solid competition he was facing, he was a horse whose odds needed to be discounted more steeply. He ran mid-pack and never threatened.